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EDF Insect Armageddon preview: Bug spray


It's natural to worry about the new Earth Defense Force game, Insect Armageddon. D3 has taken the series away from developer Sandlot and handed it to a Western team, its own Vicious Cycle, best known for the Matt Hazard series. However -- and this works out in the new game's favor -- the EDF games were never technically good to start with. So if Vicious Cycle designed it too well, it would feel inauthentic.

So far, it seems that the team has been good to the source material, making worthwhile changes and keeping what works, all in an engine that can actually keep up.

Gallery: Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon (GDC 2011) | 15 Photos

The base gameplay is going to be instantly familiar to anyone who has either played a previous game or can imagine shooting at hundreds of giant ants with a machine gun. It's a third-person shooter in which you, as a member of the titular Earth Defense Force, blast away at the enormous ants, spiders, and other cree-ee-eepy crawlers that have overrun the planet. And ... that's about it!

Vicious Cycle has tweaked the gameplay in ways that make this stupid fun a bit more fun. Instead of just the standard trooper, you can now choose between four character classes, including the "average" trooper, a heavily armored character, a "tactical" character, or a jetpack trooper, who is clearly the best because he has a jetpack and jetpacks are awesome. Each character has the expected advantages and drawbacks, and each has a special ability: the "tactical" trooper can drop turrets, the heavy "battle" class can create shields, and the jetpack trooper has a jetpack. In addition, you can choose from multiple weapon loadouts, with more equipment available for purchase between missions. All this adds a layer of customization which increases the depth, and allows for more interesting teambuilding in multiplayer.

Pretty much everything is destructible now. Sure, it's kind of counterintuitive to be "defending" the Earth by blowing up all of its office buildings, warehouses, and probably even a few schools and hospitals, but as long as those big ants blow up along with them it's okay, right? Besides, "common sense" and other concerns go out the window when faced with the incontrovertible, scientific fact that blowin' stuff up in a video game is fun.

EDF Insect Armageddon features campaign co-op for up to three players, which seems like (and is, literally) an odd number. It also includes a survival mode playable by up to six simultaneously, limited only to the "Trooper" class. In this mode, wave after wave of enemies arrive, with no chance to replenish supplies or health between waves. When I began survival mode, I immediately hopped into a nearby tank, which afforded me both infinite, high-powered ammo and the ability to run over enemy ants. Two players can actually man turrets on the sides of the tank, as well. Being safely ensconced in a nearly invincible vehicle made "survival" the least of my concerns, so perhaps this mode could be thought of as "shooting ants forever" instead.

Based on my experience with the title, Insect Armageddon will carry on the legacy of the series as a B-movie-style shooter that you don't really have to think too hard about. There are giant tarantulas, and they need to be destroyed for the crime of being giant tarantulas. According to the fact sheet, Insect Armageddon will descend upon North America on July 5.

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